It’s been a long offseason for fans, but kickoff to the 2017 college football schedule is fast approaching. Michigan opens its preseason football camp on July 31, beginning in earnest the Wolverines’ preparations for the season opener on Sept. 2 against Florida in Arlington, Texas. Land of 10 brings you a preview of each position group leading up to the start of practice.
LB Mike McCray (RS Sr.)
Jabrill Peppers, Ben Gedeon
Khaleke Hudson (Soph.), Devin Bush Jr. (Soph.)
Others on the roster
Mike Wroblewski (RS Sr.), Noah Furbush (Jr.), Josh Uche (Soph.), Drew Singleton (Fr.), Jordan Anthony (Fr.)
Who to watch
McCray, Hudson, Bush
Breaking it down
McCray is anticipated to be the leader in a unit that lost two of its three starters, including Peppers, one of the most versatile college football players in 2016.
McCray, however, chose to return to Michigan for his final year of eligibility. Because of that, he also will be regarded as a leader in a young position group.
McCray had 76 tackles (12.5 for a loss of 51 yards), 4.5 sacks and 2 interceptions. McCray also thrived as a pass rusher. He had 8 quarterback hurries in 2016 — second on the team to defensive end Taco Charlton’s 10.
With Peppers’ departure — he was selected by the Cleveland Browns in the first round of the NFL Draft in April — Hudson will have the biggest shoes to fill. Hudson moves to the viper position that Peppers handled last season, a role that’s a hybrid of a linebacker and a safety and concentrates on pass-rushing responsibilities.
“It’s a position where you can be all over the field, you can be at safety, you can be at linebacker, you can be in the slot,” Hudson said during spring practices. “You have a lot of responsibilities.”
“You have to have heart to play in the box, and you have to have heart to cover the receivers.”
Bush will be a sophomore but enrolled at Michigan in January 2016. He played primarily on special teams as a freshman, registering 12 tackles and a quarterback hurry. Following Michigan’s spring game, quarterback Wilton Speight pointed out Bush’s ability to be disruptive in the offensive backfield, as well as his speed and explosiveness.
Michigan has three linebackers in its incoming class, including IMG Academy product Anthony, as well as Singleton, who missed all but one game of his senior season at Paramus (N.J.) Catholic . That school also produced Peppers and Michigan defensive lineman Rashan Gary, who is recovering from surgery to replace a torn ACL in his left knee.